Welcome to Grub Street’s weekly survey of the most talked-about, must-visit restaurants in New York City. The list below features spots both new and old, ranked according to one important, ever-fluctuating (and admittedly subjective) metric: Who has the most buzz? Perhaps a famed chef has taken over the kitchen or there’s a new dish you absolutely must order. Maybe the restaurant is just brand new, or the critics are raving about it. Whatever the reasons, these are the 12 hottest restaurants in New York right now.
1. Au Cheval (New this week)
Anyone pining for the days when brown liquor and bone marrow ruled New York’s restaurant world should track down the half-hidden entrance to this restaurant, located in a part of town that isn’t quite Tribeca but also isn’t quite Chinatown. Once inside, diners will find a wondrous, exceptionally well done ode to all things rich and fatty: Mile-high bologna sandwiches, scrambled eggs smothered in foie gras, triple-stacked burgers, and plenty of classic cocktails. In another throwback move, reservations aren’t taken and waits can be insane, so — if you can swing it — try stopping by for an early weekday lunch when things, at least so far, have been a little more subdued.
2. Madame Vo Barbecue (Last week: 3)
Recently, our critic Adam Platt called this new spot’s seven-course beef meal a “filling, decently priced, and generally delicious experiment in Vietnamese ‘barbecue’ dining.” This week, Times critic Pete Wells finds much to like, as well, offering one star and writing that the $59 feast is “the surest route to happiness” here.
3. The Fly (1)
In Bed-Stuy, the team that made both Hart’s and Cervo’s two of the city’s most charming restaurants have opened a third: a café and bar dedicated to roast chicken, natural wine, and unfussy cocktails. Of course, these are three things that are more or less universally beloved, so get over there and try to become a regular before it gets too crowded.
4. o:n˚ (2)
The name of this new K-Town arrival may be a pain to type, but the concept itself is sound: seasonal, table-side cooking from NamHyung Woo, the chef behind Her Name Is Han. This time of year, that means Korean hot pot, which you should definitely check out before the weather warms up.
5. Wayan (10)
Ochi and Cédric Vongerichten are the husband-and-wife team behind this handsome new Nolita Indonesian spot, where the latter Vongerichten puts his fine-dining expertise to work and the former has created an effortlessly warm dining room.
6. Empellón al Pastor (Murray Hill) (4)
On 39th Street, Alex Stupak has expanded his Empellón empire with this new al Pastor outpost, where you will find upgraded bar food (“mozzarella” sticks made with chihuahua cheese, chicken nuggets, “lobster rangoon”), plenty of margaritas (get the “blood” variety), and bottles of pure umami that you will want to shake on everything.
7. Murray’s Mac & Cheese (9)
Like it or not, it’s still winter for at least a little longer. But the good news is that the Murray’s Cheese empire has just unwrapped this fast-casual spot next to their flagship Bleecker Street store, devoted to the most comforting of all comfort foods. What else do you need to know?
8. Russ & Daughters (Brooklyn) (6)
The appetizing icon has expanded to the Brooklyn Navy Yard with a new factory that turns out all the hits you expect along with some new perks, like a lot more space than at the Houston Street original and — just maybe — shorter lines.
9. The Standard Grill (7)
If anything can convince a hardened New Yorker to spend a night in the Meatpacking District, it might one of the flat-out delicious dishes on Rocco DiSpirito’s menu at this restaurant reboot: Perhaps the truffled poussin, or the short ribs that are cooked for three days? Maybe something from the raw bar? In any event, Michael Cecchi-Azzolina’s warm, convivial front-of-the-house staff helps, too.
10. Hunky Dory (12)
In Crown Heights, the all-day café has been combined with the “laid-back-but-still-quite-serious cocktail bar” genre to yield this newcomer from Claire Sprouse. It’s a neighborhood place through and through, so should you be in the neighborhood, make sure to drop in. If you go, order the mezcal and turmeric cocktail!
11. Oxalis (11)
Pete Wells recently checked in on this Prospect Heights newcomer, and was impressed by much of the technique on display in chef Nico Russell’s $60 tasting menu — though he wishes the menu changed a little more often and the vibe in the dining room could be a bit less stuffy.
12. Noreetuh (Off last week)
Is this East Village Hawaiian spot one of New York’s most underrated restaurants? It is certainly good, and perhaps does not receive as much praise as it warrants — which is why it’s more than worth checking out again if you haven’t been in a while.